Jim Thornton (born April 21, 1965 in Huntington, West Virginia) is a radio and television announcer who is primarily known as a news anchor on KNX in Los Angeles. Following the death of longtime announcer Charlie O'Donnell in November 2010, Thornton became one of several guest announcers on Wheel of Fortune.
This was the second time Thornton was part of a rotation of guest announcers on a game show, the first being on The Price Is Right after Rod Roddy died in October 2003. (Rich Fields eventually got the job, and also filled in on Wheel following his dismissal from Price in 2010, subbing for nine weeks.)
Thornton first announced the weeks of December 20, 2010 through January 3, 2011, being dubbed over Charlie in the process. He first announced from the studio on the week of January 17. Other weeks that Jim announced were January 24; February 7, 21, and 28; March 21 and 28; and every Season 28 episode from April 18 onward. He announced in post-production for the weeks of February 7 and March 28, and his announcing for the weeks of May 2-16 was pre-recorded.
On February 25, 2011, game show announcer Randy West (and another Price candidate following Roddy's death) posted the partially-filled puzzle J__ T__R___N on his Facebook page with a message saying "I have no further comment" (he gave the category, Person, five minutes later). The puzzle was clearly JIM THORNTON, which at that point may have been seen as a mere endorsement; the fact that West has a great many connections in the business, however, heavily suggested that Jim had already gotten the job.
Thornton was confirmed as the new announcer on June 13, with his first permanent episode airing September 19 (the Season 29 premiere). To "establish" him, Wheel dubbed him over the other guest announcers for the Summer 2011 repeats (although Charlie was retained on reruns of September and October shows, as well as weekend repeats of Season 27), a move speculated to have actually been the show either unwilling to pay royalties and/or thinking the others' work was extremely inferior.
Some of the repeats had Jim dubbed over a guest announcer who was dubbed over Charlie, resulting in three different announcers doing the exact same work: one which was taped prior to his death, one which was the result of not willing to air the first, and one which was likely the result of not willing to rerun the second.
"Look at this room, filled with valuable prizes!"
Not unlike M. G. Kelly, Jim often ad-libs portions of the copy, most notably in responding to Pat Sajak's throw before the Jackpot plugs, the first lines of Prize Puzzle copy, and the rotating lines whenever a cash prize is won in the Bonus Round. Unlike Kelly, however, it does not appear that Thornton requires multiple takes for prize copy.
Since at least the beginning of Season 30, Thornton wears a different tie for each themed week. For Christmas 2012, he was given a special tie (see right) by Harry Friedman showing the Thing puzzle JIM THORNTON'S COOL NECKTIE.
During audience warmups and breaks between segments, Jim takes questions from the audience and talks about various elements of the show including the shopping format, Charlie O'Donnell, and Jack Clark. Questions to the audience (generally for Wheel goodie bags or signed $1 bills) have included the show's original name, when the daytime and nighttime versions debuted, its first host, and its first hostess.
Notably, during an early Season 30 taping when the correct "original name" answer was given, Jim noted that the Shopper's Bazaar pilot was online. On the other hand, Thornton has never gotten the correct "first hostess" answer at Culver City tapings but regularly gets it at road shows.
Unlike his predecessors, Jim is shown on-camera several times per season, usually in reaction to one of Pat's jokes.